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School leavers struggle to choose uni courses

Research from South Australia’s universities has found that 51 per cent of school leavers have trouble deciding on what to study at university.

The study, supported by the federal Department of Education, surveyed year 12 students from 67 high schools in SA. It found that 90 per cent of surveyed students broadly explore their university options, such as browsing brochures and websites. But 35 per cent of those students struggle to navigate the labyrinth of university course options.

“[Students] look at a broad range of alternative options and then when they get closer to a decision, they drill down to maybe a few alternatives, and that’s where they end [their] exploration,” explained the University of South Australia’s Andrea Parks, a researcher in the study.

“Some of our data is showing that that in depth exploration isn’t happening, and we’re not sure if that’s because they don’t know how to. There’s a sense that they’re overwhelmed by a lot of choice.

“The information is all there, that’s the good news … but it can be difficult to wade through.”

Despite the deluge of information, Parks said students should be encouraged to research so they can make an informed decision on what to study. She said schools’ careers advisers do help in this but are often under-resourced to cope with student demand. The same applies to their counterparts in universities, Parks said.

Parks said the initial data suggests that universities and schools could work together to solve the impasse.

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